Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

About the book:

When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson, August 2016)

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey's job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs and homes when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky town, located deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has been plagued by a serial rapist and a series of unexplained deaths. Before Gwen can develop a composite drawing, the latest witness vanishes, just like all the previous victims.

Turning her attention to sketching the face of an unidentified body, she discovers a link between his death and a Pentecostal serpent-handling church. Serpent-handling is illegal in Kentucky, and the churches have gone underground to avoid the authorities and continue to worship as they believe. Gwen is offered a handsome reward to infiltrate the renegade members, a reward she desperately needs as it seems her breast cancer has returned.

Joined by her digitally-obsessed, Generation Z daughter, Gwen goes undercover to a nineteenth century revival, planning to draw the faces of the snake handlers so they can be identified and arrested. Instead she uncovers a murderous plot and a festering evil.

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My Review:

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks is probably my favorite mystery/suspense read of all-time.  That is saying a lot as I have read and enjoyed some pretty amazing books.   There was just something about this book that really just sucked me in and kept me turning the pages.  Gwen Marcey is a heroine who has a lot on her plate.  Not only is she a forensic artist, but she is divorced, trying to raise a 15 year old daughter, battling cancer, and just really trying to keep her head above water personally and financially.  She travels to Kentucky to work on a case dealing with rape victims.  However, the sheriff is acting a bit peculiar about the whole situation and then before she can even interview the victim, the victim disappears.  More strange things happen and then Gwen is asked by a powerful politician to go undercover into a snake handling church to expose them and to help put a stop to their religious practices.

Everything begins to get dicier and Gwen is unsure of who to trust if anybody, as she discovers more secrets about this town and the church.  There is a lot that takes place but I did not get lost in any of it, the author moved this story at a pretty quick clip and I did not want to stop till I got to the end.  I read it in a day.  The author also raises some interesting moral questions about religious freedom in our country and what that really means.  This is the first book I have read by Carrie Stuart Parks and it is the third in the series and I immensely enjoyed it.  Definitely a must read author.

I received a copy for an honest review through Litfuse Publicity and the opinions are my own.

About the author:

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

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